Here’s the final part of the “Countdown to the NHL Winter Classic”.
Probably the best tradition you’ll see at Nationals Park occurs during the middle of the fourth inning. The origins of the Presidents Race began in 2006 as a video promotion, similar to the origins of Milwaukee’s Famous Racing Sausages. Then, on the first home game after the All-Star break, the Racing Presidents came to life, racing from center field, down the warning track to the right field foul pole before reaching the finish line near first base. The Presidents Race features likenesses of five former Presidents of the United States, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft. However, the Presidents Race got some notoriety for having one of the longest winless streaks in the history of sports.
Prior to the final regular-season game of 2012, Teddy Roosevelt never won a race (with a huge emphasis on the word never). In the first year of the live-action Presidents Race, Teddy was disqualified by using a golf cart or popping out of nowhere from the first-base dugout. The following season, Teddy was disqualified by ziplining down from the outfield stands on Opening day, using a bicycle rickshaw, and “Secret Service” escort. By the time the Presidents Race moved to Nationals Park, Teddy’s streak of futility continued, getting disqualified by using a motor scooter, or cutting the right field corner. During the last two years of Presidential election in the United States, the rallying cry during the Presidents Race was “Let Teddy Win!” (as a matter of fact, “Let Teddy Win” is the name of a very popular Nationals blog dedicated solely to the history of the Presidents Race) Then came the afternoon of October 3, 2012: the day Teddy Roosevelt finally won.
After that win, the Nationals rolled into the Postseason for the first time in franchise history. Their opponent in the NLDS was the defending World Series Champions, St. Louis Cardinals. After splitting the first two games in St. Louis, the Nats needed to win to out of three games on their own home field to advance to the NLCS. In the first Postseason Presidents Race, Teddy Roosevelt won. (As of right now, Teddy is undefeated in Postseason Presidents Races [5-0].) The 2013 season saw Teddy win more Presidents Races (11). Last season was a career season for the Racing President that was once considered the butt of jokes. Teddy won on opening day, and he never looked back, going on to win 29 races en route to his first Presidents Race season championship.
Teddy Roosevelt was also the first Racing President to meet and greet with Nationals fans. You can get your picture with George, Abe, Tom, Teddy, and Bill before the game inside the Center Field entrance or out in Section 131 after the Presidents Race is run.
Well, that wraps up the “Countdown to the NHL Winter Classic”. I hope you enjoy the game tomorrow, and wish all of you a safe and happiest of what the New Year has to come.